Since Kevin Durant’s departure five years ago, Seattle basketball fans have dreamed about the return of the one-time Sonics rookie phenom.
Perhaps sooner than expected, he’ll play in the city where he got his NBA start.
The Oklahoma City Thunder superstar and Jeff Green, who starred with Durant during their one season in Seattle, are expected to be the headliners this weekend at the Jamal Crawford Summer Pro-Am.
For a league that bills itself as “All Hoop, No Hype,” promoting the return of the former Sonics goes against the pro-am’s mantra. There’s also no guarantee Durant or Green will show up.
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However, tournament organizers are preparing for big turnouts at Seattle Pacific University, where the games are played.
Green is expected to play 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Durant is scheduled to play 4 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $5.
“I’m usually hesitant about making these kinds of announcements until I see guys actually walk into the gym, but Jamal tells me this is a done deal,” said tournament director Rashaad Powell. “The flights are booked. The hotel reservations are set.
“Now we’re just waiting for the show. And it should be a great show.”
If the former Sonics stars return, give credit to Crawford. He has been working to secure NBA stars such as Blake Griffin and Kyrie Irving to compete in his summer tournament, which includes college and high school players.
Several NBA standouts including Tyreke Evans, Martell Webster and Isaiah Thomas have competed this summer. But landing Durant was the top priority.
This isn’t the first time Durant and Green have been scheduled to play in Seattle. Two years ago, they were included in an lineup of NBA stars for a charity game that was ultimately canceled.
“Kevin was going to do it in the past, but one year we had the lockout and last year it just didn’t work out because he was in the Olympics,” Crawford said weeks ago. “He’s always wanted to come back and play in Seattle. It’s just a matter of finding the right time.”
Durant, the Sonics’ No. 2 pick in the 2007 draft, last played in Seattle five years ago in a game Sonics fans may never forget. Back then, the 19-year-old scoring sensation led the Sonics to a 99-95 comeback victory over the playoff-bound Dallas Mavericks.
It was an emotional game for the 16,272 in the stands who alternately chanted in support of the local team and against its new owner, Clay Bennett, who relocated the team after 41 years in Seattle.
Durant was one of the few bright spots in a season that culminated in a franchise-worst 20-62 record.
He averaged 20.3 points and 4.4 rebounds and won the Rookie of the Year award. It was just a glimpse of what has been an amazing career.
In five seasons with the Thunder, Durant is a four-time All-Star and a three-time scoring champion. He led Oklahoma City to the NBA Finals in 2012, losing 4-1 to the Miami Heat.
Even though there’s a great deal of animosity between Sonics fans and Bennett, Durant has always spoken positively about Seattle. During the Western Conference semifinals in March, he wore a Sonics baseball cap after practice.
Green was drafted by the Boston Celtics in the 2007 draft but was traded to Seattle, where he was selected to the all-rookie first team after averaging 10.5 points and 4.7 rebounds. He played three seasons in Oklahoma City before being traded back to the Celtics. Last season, Green averaged 12.8 points.
“Those guys are a part of our history,” Powell, the tournament director, said. “Bringing them back is huge for the league. Other than our (Seattle) guys, we’ve had some big names, but it doesn’t get any bigger than Kevin Durant.”
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or firstname.lastname@example.org.